LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices slipped on Tuesday after Iran said late the previous day it wanted to resolve a row over 15 British sailors and marines seized in the Gulf through diplomacy and without a trial.
U.S. crude was down 50 cents at $65.44 a barrel by 0911 GMT. London Brent lost 30 cents to $68.44.
Prices had already begun unraveling late on Monday when Ali Larijani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, made the comments to Britain’s Channel 4 News.
The market has been on edge for months because of a dispute between Iran, the world’s fourth biggest oil exporter, and the U.N. Security Council over Iran’s nuclear program.
The March 23 detention of the British service personnel propelled U.S. oil to its highest level in more than six months last week.
“I think there is going to be a peaceful resolution,” said Tony Nunan, a manager at Mitsubishi Corp.’s risk management unit.
Analysts say it would be difficult to replace the roughly 2.5 million bpd of oil exported by Iran, which borders the Strait of Hormuz, conduit for two-fifths of globally traded oil.
U.S. refinery glitches and a drawdown in fuel stocks in the world’s top oil consumer ahead of the northern hemisphere’s peak summer driving season have also been supporting the market.
Analysts polled by Reuters forecast weekly government inventory data to be released on Wednesday will show declines of 800,000 barrels in gasoline stocks and 600,000 barrels in distillates. Crude oil stocks were expected to have risen 1.6 million barrels for the week ending March 30, the poll showed.